And Field Trips
By permission from Healthy Childcare, Healthy Child
trips can provide wonderful learning experiences for children of all ages.
In order to make the most of this experience, it is important to keep
safety as a top priority.
Before selecting a field trip site or event, teachers should consider why
they are taking children on a field trip. Is this an activity that can
only take place away from the center, such as a visit to a children's
theater? Or could this experience occur just as well in the center? For
example, if you want children to see and touch animals, you can visit a
petting zoo, or you might ask a guest to bring baby goats, kittens, or
puppies to the classroom.
Safety concerns can arise when children get bored because the event is too
long for their attention span. Children also may lose interest if they
can't perform the activity, either because it is developmentally
inappropriate or because there are too many children for the number of
activities. When children get bored - look out! They will find something
else to do such as wandering off or climbing the stair railings. When
planning the field trip, here are some points to consider:
Is this field trip appropriate for the age group? The age of your children
can affect your safety considerations. For example, taking a group of 20
four-year-olds to a shopping mall to see a clown might not be a good idea
because there are too many places for the children to "escape"
and get out of your sight. However, other sites might be much better
suited for a field trip such as visiting a fire station or dentist's
Consider the developmental level of your children. Children enjoy hands-on
and interactive activities rather than watching or listening to someone
else. However, if it is hands-on, can the children perform that particular
Is the activity safe for children? Consider a visit to a petting farm.
This can be an enriching experience for children to see and touch baby
lambs, goats, and ducks however, there are still hazards. Some animals
bite. A goose can give a mean pinch! Even a baby lamb who wants to
"suck" on little fingers can hurt a small child. Some animals
are too big for children. When visiting a petting farm, plan extra adult
supervision and be sure children are separated from large animals and/or
potentially dangerous animals.
Transportation may occur by bus, van, or private vehicles driven by
parents. All children should be securely buckled into car seats or booster
seats approved for their age and weight. The safest place for all infants
and young children is the back seat of a car. Older children should buckle
the lap belt and shoulder belt. Never double-buckle children in seat belts
as each child should have his or her own seat belt to provide the best
Check out the loading and unloading area at the site. Children should exit
the vehicle and enter the area without crossing traffic areas or parking
Do head counts frequently. Count your children as you leave the childcare
center, once they are in the vehicle, as they exit the vehicle, and when
they get into the designated building or area.
Visit the site prior to the field trip. Look at the site from a safety
standpoint, such as potential falls, entrapments, choking/poisoning
hazards, etc. Remember, most field trip sites are not designed to be
Plan adequate adult supervision, both during transportation and during the
field trip activities.
Take a file containing parent authorizations,
emergency contact information, and medical authorizations for each child.
Take a well-equipped first aid kit.
Notify someone at the field trip site of your expected departure and
Have a two-way radio or cellular phone available in case of an emergency.
Basic hygiene on field trips
While on a field trip, basic hygiene such as hand washing is important.
One preschool classroom's trip to the zoo ended up with many cases of an
intestinal virus when the children touched a railing that was part of a
reptile exhibit and then ate their lunches without washing their hands.
Field trips are fun and educational and with the proper health and safety
preparations, unnecessary problems can be avoided.
The Parent Connection
Field trips are an excellent opportunity to include parent volunteers. If
you need to increase the ratio of adults to children on a field trip,
invite parents or other center volunteers to join the outing.
Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care -